Although a full historical of the disputes between India and Pakistan and the problem of Kashmir is not necessary, it is important to remember that in the last years, the situation has greatly evolved with for instance, the nuclear tests of 1998, the Kargil War of 1999, the US-led war on terror especially in Central and South Asia. One of the major problems of the dispute is the great difference of perception that exists between Indian and Pakistani leaders, which affects their expectations and strategies. India considers Kashmir as a domestic issue whereas Pakistan sees it as an issue of incompleteness of its national territory. Islamabad's priority is thus to resolve the Kashmir issue first and then normalize bilateral relations, whereas New Delhi considers normalization as a prerequisite for the resolution of this dispute.
[...] The US should let India and Pakistan lead their “composite dialogue”, welcome any new steps toward normalization (like the creation of the bus lines, negotiations on the Sir Creek dispute resumed in 2006, or any other Confidence Building Measure or mid-level officials talks), and even propose technical assistance but on a very neutral position. They consider that being too much involved would imply making decisions that could not be accepted by one or two of the parties and thus be counterproductive (especially in Pakistan, where the population is already concerned because of the improved US-Indian relationship and the discontinued history of relations with the US). [...]
[...] Even if the situations are not similar, it is interesting to see how the US provided economic and military assistance to both countries but under the condition that the Europeans cooperate and resolve their disputes. So the general idea is that the US should play a greater role and facilitate the normalization process. It should of course not try to find and impose a “magic solution”, but instead promote a bilateral settlement. The US should offer incentives for each positive step and avoid taking one side. [...]
[...] The US could also play a great role in the pipeline project which would give India and Pakistan a real stake in improved relations. The problem is that US have concerns with the idea of an IPI Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline (and that the current legislation even dictates American opposition: Iran-Libya Sanctions Act requires sanctions against companies investing in Iran's energy sector). There is an alternative a pipeline coming from Turkmenistan that would be more acceptable, but it requires stability in Afghanistan. [...]
[...] used threats to obtain Pakistan's full cooperation against the Taliban, the US now fully recognizes the effort accomplished by Pakistan and knows that it still needs it to achieve its projects in the region. The US-India relation has been difficult since 1947 but has remarkably evolved since the end of the Cold war, and both countries have understood the link of interdependence that exists now (the “strategic partnership”). Economic and even security cooperation have reached a high level: India still needs US support, investment, nuclear cooperation and the US still tries to use India as a counterweight against China. [...]
[...] The strategy defended by Pakistan is one of cooperation on all issues, even those related to core issue” (like the Siachen Glacier, or the water problem in Kashmir) because it is impossible to normalize without addressing the main subject of dispute. In any case, the US does not have to choose (or even worse, impose) a strategy. It can only accompany the process that both countries would accept. This has been eased by the fact that the US has now enough clout to be involved. [...]
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